Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp said Sunday that protesters created a hostile environment and blocked supporters from attending the president's Saturday evening rally, though reporters on the ground said they saw no such altercations.
Speaking with “Fox News Sunday“ host Chris Wallace, Schlapp said families were scared to bring their children to the Tulsa, Okla., rally and that attendees were unable to get to the stadium where Trump was speaking.
"There were protesters who blocked the paths, and so we saw that have an impact in terms of people coming to the rally," Schlapp said. "But what was amazing, Chris, was the fact that over 5.3 million people watched it on all of our digital media channels."
Reporters who were at the rally said attendees had no difficulty getting into the venue.
Schlapp's remarks came in the wake of footage showing empty seats for the president's first rally since taking a three-month hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump campaign had been bragging that it received more than a million ticket requests in the lead-up to the rally, but it visibly failed to fill the BOK Center's 19,000 seats; Tulsa’s fire department said 6,200 people attended.
An outdoor overflow area was shuttered because of low attendance.
Reports of TikTok users and K-Pop fans booking tickets en masse in a silent protest started circulating as an explanation for the large disparity in the campaign's projections and the limited attendance.
Schlapp also tried shifting attention toward Democratic rival Joe Biden, who has opted to do virtual campaign events over concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The president went out to talk directly to the American people, to talk about the failed record of Joe Biden," Schlapp said. "The fact that Joe Biden has been a career politician that has done nothing but only supported failed institutions."
Six staffers at the Trump rally tested positive for coronavirus in the hours before the event.